Make your meetings, projects, conference calls, etc. as efficient as possible, as you are mostly dealing with tasks, timelines and decisions.
By Kent Mulkey
A quotable person once said, “You cannot explain something simply until you know it deeply.” Simple enough? At a recent training I attended the facilitator asked us to pair up with a partner, sit back to back, and while one partner described a pattern that was posted on the wall in front of them, their partner was tasked with drawing the pattern as they understood it from the words their partner used to explain it.
One thing became very clear – the person who used the fewest words (who spoke most concisely) to explain the diagram was most successful in getting the message across to the one drawing it. Excessive use of words and the more time it took left the listener drowning in a sea of chatter, and writing down a jumbled mess.
You Consume 100,000 Words Every Day*
A Waste of Words
But . . . isn’t the use of words necessary in order to communicate with others? Is that a trick question? Think of it this way: we would die in about three days without water, but is it really necessary to drink two gallons of water per day, as those in the bottled water industry would suggest?
I decided to put some water where my mouth is, and made a simple (and huge!) shift in our organization. Each member of the Leadership Team is now asked to give a report on their piece of the operation, in just five minutes. I began to see that if anyone of us was not able to provide a cogent update in five minutes or less, it is likely we don’t have a firm grasp of the situation or a clear plan in place to execute it.
The Five Minute Report
The five minute report looks like this:
What are you working to accomplish? (Focus is on execution).
What are you or your department doing well? (Be sure to celebrate small successes).
Where can you improve? (If you were your own coach what would you tell yourself?)
How can I/we help? (You will not make it on your own).
Efficiency & Effectiveness
In my business, managing a senior community, our customers are not down the street or across the country; they live where we work. You might say we work where they live, which requires a big chunk of our time and attention to serve them.
Talk Shorter = Efficiency. Talk Better = Effectiveness.
Make your meetings, projects, conference calls, etc. as efficient as possible, as you are mostly dealing with tasks, timelines and decisions. Give the lion its share by being effective, creating ample, quality time to develop, support and encourage the people you serve. Completing tasks must support the work of relating meaningfully to people. And people are what really matter.
*Tolstoy’s War and Peace is only 460,000 words, so 100,000 words a day is no big deal.